New York City has the highest energy prices in the continental U.S. With the availability of various public incentives and tax credits, solar photovoltaic (PV) systems pay for themselves in just a few years by reducing the amount of expensive electricity that a building needs to purchase from the grid.
The newly-released New York City Multifamily Solar Guide* provides guidance from a consortium of experts on considerations faced by co-op and condo boards when examining solar.

Some key takeaways include:
  • Solar works in NYC. As of March 2015, the city has more than 45 megawatts of solar installed, enough to power 6,500 homes.
  • Solar systems on multifamily buildings can pay for themselves in 5-10 years at current incentive levels, sometimes less, while solar panel power production warranties typically last 25 years – many panels function for 30+ years.
  • Solar systems can often be financed for $0 down, either through a loan or third-party ownership via a lease or power purchase agreement.
  • Current incentives and tax credits can reduce the out-of-pocket costs by 80%. The process of monetizing state and federal tax credits is more complicated for co-ops and condos than for single-family homes or private management companies, so a tax attorney should be consulted.
  • Incentives and tax credits are scheduled to decline in the coming years, so it can pay to install solar today rather than waiting for further price declines or technological advances.
  • The electric rate categorization, or utility tariff, of your building’s electric meter will significantly impact the potential savings and payback of solar. Solar does not typically reduce demand charges.
  • Going solar can be a complex process for co-ops and condos because of board decision making and the challenge of monetizing tax credits – be prepared for ups and downs, but the economic and environmental payoffs can be well worth it.
  • Solar can be combined with energy efficiency to reduce the size of a solar system needed to offset your building’s energy usage or to maximize the impact of your investment.

* The guide was produced by a group led by the NYC Mayor’s Office of Sustainability and the NYC Economic Development Corporation, and coordinated by Sustainable CUNY as part of the U.S Department of Energy SunShot Initiative.

Tuesday May 19, 2015